( Jewish Post & News columnist Bill Marantz confused Winnipeg Jets goalie (left) with APTN anchor Michael Hutchinson (right))
APTN National News
Members of both the Jewish and Aboriginal community are angered over an “ignorant” and “hateful” newspaper column which repeatedly uses the term “Indian.”
The opinion piece – written by former provincial court judge Bill Marantz in the Jewish Post & News – was inspired by an online Twitter debate about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
Marantz believed he was “sparring” with the Winnipeg Jets’ back-up goalie Michael Hutchinson, when in fact he was tweeting with APTN National News anchor Michael Hutchinson.
Marantz says the incendiary tweet that started it all was when he paraphrased the late “former CBC token Indian” Johnny Yesno saying, “The only fully-employed aboriginals are the chiefs who are busy flying to conferences.”
It was then retweeted by APTN National News anchor Hutchinson. The Twitter notification prompted Marantz to do a quick Google search where the NHL goalie is first to show up in results.
The former judge believed he was really tweeting with a member of the Winnipeg Jets.
“It’s embarrassing to admit that a 25-year-old jock, who stops pucks for a living, knows more about the legal status of aboriginal people than a former (part-time) provincial court judge,” wrote Marantz. “Mike Hutchinson is not only as sharp as a hunting knife, he sounds like he’s actually read the Indian Act.”
The article, which has since been removed from the Jewish Post & News’ website, goes on to criticize the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report, calling it the “half-truth and recrimination report.”
According to Marantz, the TRC wasted six years “splitting hairs” and “encouraging victims to wallow in victimhood” instead of “encouraging youth.” He wrote that everyone already knows enough about Indian residential schools.
“Any Canadian (Indian code for paleface) who is unaware of the abuses of the Residential School System, at this stage of the game, just hasn’t been paying attention for the past 50 years,” wrote Marantz.
The article goes on to criticize First Nation leaders in general, particularly chiefs. Marantz accuses chiefs of “endless hand-wringing, chest thumping and name calling” while referring to a number of social issues, such as high suicide rates on reserves and Aboriginal sex trade workers in the city.
“The so-called leaders of the Aboriginal community are too busy feathering their own headdresses to worry about trivialities like chronic unemployment, poverty, illness, alcoholism and crime,” he wrote.
Grand Chief Derek Nepinak of the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs released a statement calling the article “racially derogatory.”
Nepinak said the column betrayed the writer’s own privileged biases.
“The writer’s attitude not only demonstrates the privilege and entitlement he is taking for granted, it also demonstrates a very disrespectful approach to the current dialogue around truth and reconciliation and a rejection of historical truths about the treatment of Indigenous peoples in the nation state,” stated Nepinak.
In the statement, Nepinak said he was concerned over whether Marantz dealt with cases involving Aboriginal people while acting as a provincial court judge.
Nepinak said the article, “Clearly calls into question his ability to set aside racially motivated stereotypes and attitudes in decision-making that would have impacted the lives of people significantly.”
Brokenhead Ojibway Nation Chief Jim Bear called the column by Marantz a “brutal” portrayal of First Nations people.
“Brokenhead Ojibway Nation does not in any way, shape or form condone this brutal portrayal made by Mr. Marantz against our First Nation community,” said Bear. “The state of ours and many First Nations is a collective crisis, not just an isolated First Nation crisis.”
Bear said Marantz’ comparison of the residential school system to the Holocaust “minimizes and dishonours” the residential school experience.
Bear said he wants an apology, from both Marantz and the newspaper.
He told APTN National News that he doesn’t want a personal apology, but a public apology to the Aboriginal community as a whole.
When APTN contacted Marantz for an on-camera interview, he refused, saying he’d prefer to have a live televised conversation with Bear “to discuss this matter freely and openly”.
He also said he’d like to have Hutchinson present for the discussion. Marantz has since publicly apologized for confusing Hutchinson with the Winnipeg Jets’ goalie.
Marantz has yet to apologize for any of the views he expressed in the article as of this article’s posting.